How to Deal With Complaints for Social CRM

By Kyle Lacy, Stephanie Diamond, Jon Ferrara

The home for complaints used to be customer service department. Now, complaints for Social CRM have lots of places to go via social media, which amplifies a complaint’s negative message. Complaints are on Facebook, in your Twitter feed, and all over review sites. Regardless of where you find them, complaints take two general forms, as follows:

  • Complaints with a clear resolution: Your customer service reps and social media responders encounter problems that need solving. For example, a customer might say that the product must be returned, the fit is wrong, or he ordered a blue one and got a green one.

    These are the types of issues that support people hope they’ll find every time they pick up the phone or respond to an e-mail, chat, or social media comment. The rep is clear on what kind of response is needed to solve the problem and satisfy the customer.

  • Complaints without a clear resolution: The second form of complaint is much more difficult to deal with in today’s always-on web. Perhaps the customer is irate, writing negative online reviews, and there’s no clear problem to solve immediately. But solve you must. A knee-jerk defense could make things worse.

    For example, we’ve seen restaurant staff reply to irate customer reviews by writing insulting replies to the customers. This is your worst nightmare. Your reputation could hang in the balance.

One of the funniest examples of bad customer service Stephanie has seen is worth a mention. On a clothing checkout line at a retail store, a customer ahead of her had several purchases and intended to make more. The cashier started to pack her purchases into a too-small shopping bag, tightly stuffing in the merchandise. The customer said that she’d like a bigger bag. She didn’t want her clothing rumpled.

The cashier replied that she couldn’t give her a bigger bag because, due to several thefts in the store, management had instructed cashiers to offer only smaller bags. Management’s concern was that the larger bags were accommodating theft. The customer threatened to abandon her sale. Only after much discussion was she given a larger bag.

Think about how the store manager, in his attempt to curtail thefts, was also encouraging shoppers to buy less — clearly an outcome he didn’t intend!”